|Born||13 Feb 1923|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseCharlges Elwood "Chuck" Yeager was born in Myra, West Virginia, United States to farmers Albert Hal and Susie Mae Yeager. While in high school, he attended the Citizens Military Training Camp at For Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana during the summers of 1939 and 1940. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces as an aircraft mechanic at Victorville Army Air Field, California, United States at the rank of private on 12 Sep 1941, where he was located when the United States entered the war in Dec 1941.
ww2dbaseIn Jul 1942, Yeager was chosen for flight training and was promoted to the rank of sergeant. On 10 Mar 1943, he earned his wings and was promoted to the rank of flight officer. He was assigned to the 357th Fighter Group as a fighter pilot. He departed for Britain on 23 Nov 1943. At RAF Leiston field, he flew the P-51 Mustang fighter "Glamorous Glen" (named after his girlfriend, Glennis Faye Dickhouse) with the 363rd Fighter Squadron. On 5 Mar 1944, he was shot down over France on his eighth mission, and was saved by members of the French resistance group the Marquis. He remained with the resistance fighters for the remainder of the month, helping the resistance fighters in duties that did not involve direct combat. On 30 Mar, he and another injured airman fled into Spain. Once back in Britain, he was re-instated as a fighter pilot under the intervention of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was needed because evader pilots who had been shot down in enemy territory and came in contact with resistance fighters were usually forbidden to re-enter combat service so that there would be no risk of compromising the identities of the resistance fighters. During his combat career during WW2, Yeager was turned down three times by promotion board because of a court-martial on his enlisted record. He was finally approved for the promotion to the rank of captain in Jan 1945. On 15 Jan 1945, he flew his 61st and final mission, and returned to the United States in early Feb. On 26 Feb 1945, Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse; they had four children. He chose to serve at Wright Field in West Virginia to be close to his pregnant wife, and became a test pilot there under the command of Colonel Albert Boyd, the head of the Aeronautical Systems Flight Test Division.
ww2dbaseAfter WW2, Yeager remained in the military, and became a pilot in the newly formed United States Air Force (USAF). While serving at Muroc Army Air Field (later Edwards Air Force Base), California, United States, he flew the rocket-powered X-1 aircraft at the speed of sound at an altitude of 45,000 feet, making him the first person to reach Mach 1 while in level flight. He accomplished the task while painfully recovering from two broken ribs, which information he hid from his superiors in fear that he would be removed from the project. He received the MacKay and Collier Trophies in 1948 and the Harmon International Trophy in 1954 for breaking the sound barrier. He went on break many other speed and altitude records. During the latter half of 1953, he was involved with the X-1A aircraft design which was designed to surpass Mach 2 in level flight, but the honor went to Scott Crossfield in a D-558-II Skyrocket on 20 Nov 1953. Less than a month later, on 12 Dec 1953, he surpassed Crossfield's record by reaching Mach 2.44.
ww2dbaseBetween May 1955 and Jul 1957, Yeager commanded the 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron of the 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Hahn Air Base in Germany and Toul-Rosieres Air Base in France. Between 1957 and 1960, he commanded the 1st Fighter Day Squadron (later the 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron) at George Air Force Base in California, United States and Morón Air Base in Spain. In 1962, after completion of a year's studies at the Air War College, he became the first commandant of the USAF's Aerospace Research Pilot School. Between Dec 1963 and Jan 1964, he completed five flights in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) M2-F1 lifting body. In 1966, he took command of the 405th Tactical Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base in the Philippine Islands, flying in 127 combat missions totaling 414 hours of flight himself, mostly in a B-57 light bomber in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. In Feb 1968, he was assigned command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, United States, and led the F-4 Phantom wing in South Korea during the Pueblo crisis. On 22 Jun 1969, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, and in the following month became the vice commander of the 17th Air Force. In 1971, he served in Pakistan as an advisor to the Pakistan Air Force. In 1973, he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
ww2dbaseYeager retired from active service on 1 Mar 1975, though he still occasionally flew for the USAF and NASA as a consulting test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was paid only US$1 annually for the consulting work, but he was given all the flying time he wanted. Also during this time, he promoted for AC Delco, the automotive parts division of General Motors. He continued to fly in the 1980s and 1990s, setting several more records. In 1990, he was inducted into the Aerospace Walk to Honor. On 14 Oct 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his achievement past Mach 1, he reached Mach 1 again with co-pilot Lieutenant Colonel Troy Fontaine in a F-15D Eagle aircraft. In 2005, President George W. Bush granted the promotion of Yeager to the rank of major general on the retirement list.
ww2dbaseYeager lost his wife Glennis in 1990. In 2000, he met actress Victoria Scott D'Angelo, who was 36 his junior. They became married in Aug 2003.
ww2dbaseOn 20 Nov 2006, Yeager endorsed Representative Duncan Hunter as a candidate for President of the United States. He currently serves as honorary chairman of Hunter's presidential campaign.
ww2dbaseYeager currently resides in California, United States.
Charles Yeager Timeline
|13 Feb 1923||Charles Yeager was born.|
|23 Nov 1943||USAAF fighter pilot Chuck Yeager departed for Britain.|
|6 Nov 1944||Captain Charles Yeager of USAAF 357th Fighter Group shot down a German Me 262 fighter while it was landing at Achmer Airfield in Germany; the German pilot, Oberfeldwebel Freutzer, survived the crash caused by the wing being shot off by Yeager.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939